The History of Every Former US Flag

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The flag of the United States goes by different names — The Stars and Stripes; The Red, White, and Blue; Old Glory; and The Star-Spangled Banner. Regardless of what it is called, the American flag is one of the most recognizable symbols of any country in the world, and the inspiration for our national anthem. This is the history behind each of America’s national anthems, songs, and marches.

The first official national flag was approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:  “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” Each star represented a state and each stripe represented the 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain. The colors of the flag were inherited from British flags and have no official meaning. 

Since the founding of the United States in 1776, there have been 27 different versions of the flag featuring the stars and stripes. Each new flag represented the addition of one or more states as the United States grew westward to fulfill what it believed to be its manifest destiny of expansion in North America.  

As Independence Day nears, 24/7 Wall St. is taking a look at how each of these 27 flags got that way. We reviewed sites such as and various history websites to find out how each state was added to the Union, thus affixing a new star to the flag.

Of the 27 versions of the United States flag, nine flew for only about a year, reflecting the rapid expansion of the nation. Though we have not had a new star since 1960 — Hawaii — we may not be done adding stars. American-owned. territories Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, might be considered for statehood.